What employment sector do you work in?
How long have you had a green job for nature?
£30,000 – £40,000
Please describe the work that you do.
I work for a large multinational engineering consultancy in the UK as an ecologist.
My role includes carrying out surveys of habitats and for protected species including badgers, bats, amphibians, riparian mammals, reptiles and more. I then report these results back to our clients to inform developments or as part of the planning process and to ensure legislation is not breached. I also analyse data, mentor colleagues, undertake training and many other things.
What do you most like about your job? Any dislikes?
I love the variety of what I do in any week and throughout the year – a mix of surveys, writing reports, analysing data, and developing myself and others. It sounds cliche but not being in the office constantly is a blessing – on some days I find myself getting paid to walk around some lovely places and birdwatch or look for badgers which is great!
There’s not much I don’t like – it can be frustrating when you may find yourself in situations where you have to mediate between the needs of nature and the needs of development but I always think that I would rather I was there, doing that role, than not being involved.
I love the variety of people I work with as well, both ecologists and others including stakeholders, arboriculturalists, clients… the list goes on!
What inspired you into this career?
I always knew I wanted to ‘work with animals’ after pursuing a Zoology degree and then an Animal Behavior MSc. But it wasn’t until I picked up some work with an ecologist in Cambridge whilst writing my MSc Thesis that I considered a full-time career as a consultant.
I enjoyed my academic experience and I was looking for a role where I could ‘be a scientist’ without working in a lab coat and whilst still earning enough money to support myself. Consultancy jumped out as giving me a chance to be out in nature whilst also contributing to conservation in a practical way.
Have you faced any challenges in progressing your career so far?
I have been very fortunate that I got into the career I wanted quite soon after completing my MSc. I side-stepped into it through a network of contacts at my job at the time (a temporary contract at North and East Yorkshire Ecological Data Centre).
Six months after starting my graduate role at the company I am still at, my now-wife and I had our daughter. I was concerned that it could be a struggle to develop my career whilst balancing childcare and being a good Dad. Thankfully, those concerns were unfounded. Whilst I haven’t been able to travel everywhere and stay away from home for months on end, I have found a balance between site work and desk work. This means I can develop my practical skills and also find time for family.
I recently was promoted to Senior Ecologist after 6.5 years at my company, so I now have more responsibility in mentoring colleagues. I have also found an enthusiastic network of individuals around me through local groups. These include the Yorkshire Amphibian and Reptile Group and the CIEEM Yorkshire and Humber Member Network (which I sit on the committee for) which means I can gain skills in all sorts of places!
What education/training did you have?
I received A-levels in Biology, Chemistry and Geography and then I studied a three-year BSc in Zoology at the University of Nottingham (2012-2015), and then an MSc (Animal Behaviour: Applications for Conservation) at Anglia Ruskin University in 2016.
What advice would you give to someone coming into the profession?
Be enthusiastic, read widely to find out what you’re interested in, and if you’re considering consultancy as a profession, get your ID skills up to scratch as best you can – Botany, Birds and Bats (the 3 B’s) are key!
Networking is a key skill to have, so talk to lots of people and attend events including conferences, workshops etc if they interest you.
Join CIEEM as a student to gain benefits and networking to progress your career. There are so many roles and opportunities in this sector!